Schooner Stephen Taber

Robin and I just got back from a four day wine tasting cruise on the Stephen Taber, an 18th century schooner out of Rockland, Maine. It was great being back on the Taber again with Captain Noah and his top-notch crew; last fall I sailed on the Taber with Julie and loved it so much I vowed then and there to come back with Robin for their wine cruise.

The evening before we headed out we got to spend a little time with Julie in the galley of the J&E Riggin where she works as galley hand and deck hand. It was great to see Jules in her element, and only wish we could have had more time together. We’ll just have to go back to see her soon ­čśë

Each day on the Taber started with hot coffee on deck, with breakfast served at 8:30. Hannah treated us to hearty breakfasts of French Toast, eggs and sausage, grits, and even some delicious scones.

After breakfast, we would raise sails and anchor, and Captain Noah would take us to someplace new. Since there are 4,000 islands or so off the Rockland coast, there is no shortage of destinations! One day we sailed to Deer Isle where we walked around in the town of Stonington (famous for its granite quarries) and shopped for gifts. Another day we explored the lighthouse at Owl’s Head, a small town south of Rockland. There were lots of sights and sounds, from beautiful island homes to various lighthouses, islands (inhabited and not), other schooners, seals sunning themselves on warm rocks, and even a few porpoises!

Every evening we dropped anchor in a different harbor, and Jane led the wine tasting. Each night she introduced us to different selection of wines, starting with some that were light and sparkling, followed by some tasty whites (my favorite), and finishing with to some delicious, mouth-filling reds. One night she ended with a port and a madeira to round things out.

Noah and Jane compare notes during the wine tasting

After the wine tasting Hannah served up dinner on deck. On the night Jane served wines from Italy we had osso buco; another night we had a classic Maine lobster bake.

Thee food on the Taber is first rate. Cook Hannah, assisted by Cara and Sarah, all worked tirelessly in the galley preparing one tasty meal after another. Amazingly enough, all cooking is done on an old fashioned wood stove.

The weather was exceptionally fine, adding to the perfect sail. First Mate Phil let me help out with the jibs when the ship came about, and showed us how to do a “long splice,” where he seamlessly joined two shorter lines into longer one. Deck hands Super Dave and the sprite-like Sarah had brass-polishing competitions in between hoisting sails and anchors and keeping things running smoothly. The amazing Cara (a dear friend of Julie’s) helped Hannah in the galley, where they churned out one delicious meal after another. These kids did an amazing job, and it was inspiring to watch them and learn from them.

Our fellow passengers were delightful, a fun-loving bunch that enjoyed wine, fine food, and sailing just as much as we did. We bonded over stories and laughter, food and wine, and the incredible shared experience of sailing on the beautiful ship that is the Taber.

Each evening, after the wine tasting and dinner, the captain and crew brought out their instruments and entertained us with a wide variety of music, from the captain’s blues and Phil’s touching rendition of the Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” to Cara and Sarah’s “Amazing Grace” duet, and Cara’s playing Swedish and Norwegian folk songs on her fiddle. The perfect ending to each perfect day.

The hospitality of the captain and crew really made us feel welcome and pampered, and their skill and professionalism made us feel safe and at home.

Professor Robin

Robin got word today that she’s been accepted as a full-time faculty member at Champlain College, and we’re all pretty proud of her. It’s a really good match, actually, both sides win big time.

Congratulations, Robin, we’re so happy for you!


On the spur of the moment yesterday Robin convinced me to take a trip to the Ikea store in Montreal to get some end tables for each side of the bed. We’ve never been to Ikea, but we like what’s in the catalog and have heard a lot of good things about it. Montreal is only two hours north of us, but the idea of driving to a big city in another country is always exciting (we’re so provincial). The only snag was that Calvin had been invited to go to the movies later on, and we wouldn’t be back in time to drive him. Gage’s family was going to be at a game so he was in the same boat. We decided to have a cab pick them up at the appointed time, and Gage’s family would bring them home later. With that plan in place, we set out to points north.

Just outside of Montreal traffic ground to a standstill, and the last five miles took about an hour. But we finally made it to Ikea, which turned out to be a great place after all. The idea is that most of the store (which is very large) is showroom space, where you can check out items, see them in different styles and get your questions answered. If you like something, you write down the aisle and bin number on its tag. When you’re ready to go, you head downstairs to a large warehouse, where you find your items with the aisle and bin numbers you wrote down earlier. I’ve never seen a warehouse store that was so smooth.

We ended up getting two wood end tables (tall with slatted shelves), and two small globe lamps to go on top of them.

We had dinner at a great little Szechuan restaurant downtown, then proceeded to get lost trying to find the right highway out of the city. After a frustrating hour we finally got back on track, and got home tired and pretty much just flopped into bed.

We set up the end tables this morning and they do look great. Mission, as they say, accomplished.